Drought Statement - Issued 3rd February 2004


Statement on Drought for the 19-month period ending 31st January 2004
ISSUED 3rd February 2004 by the National Climate Centre

Heavy rain brings relief to Queensland and northern NSW

The Bureau of Meteorology announced today that heavy rain during January removed, or significantly eased, long-term (nineteen-month) rainfall deficiencies over inland Queensland and parts of northern NSW. There was also some easing of the situation in western WA, but deficits remain along the central and northern Queensland coasts and in the southeast of the mainland.

Rainfall totals of 100 to 300mm (150% to over 400% of average) fell over the most rainfall deficient areas of northern and inland Queensland during January. The state-average rainfall was the highest for January since 1996, and while this was not exceptional, the heaviest rain was concentrated in the districts that needed it most, that is, the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders, Northwest, Central West, Maranoa, Warrego, Darling Downs and Granite Belt. Deficits were also removed in parts of the Northwest Slopes and Plains in NSW.

However, for the 19-month period from July 2002 to January 2004, rainfall deficiencies remain to the southwest of Charleville in southern Queensland, to the northwest of Bourke in northern NSW, as well as along most of the Queensland coast and ranges north of Mackay. Also affected is an area of the southeast mainland that includes patches of the Central Tablelands, Southwest Slopes and Plains, Southern Tablelands, and South Coast and Illawarra districts in NSW, together with most of Gippsland and the Central district in Victoria. Record low falls for the period have been registered near Bairnsdale in southeast Victoria. In WA, long-term rainfall deficiencies have also eased and are now confined to relatively small patches between Exmouth and Dampier.

Rainfall deficiency maps for standard periods (3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months) are updated monthly on the Bureau's web site.

Note: The terms used to describe rainfall in these Drought Statements have the following meanings -

Serious deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 10% of historical totals, but not in the lowest 5%
Severe deficiency - rainfalls in the lowest 5% of historical totals
Lowest on record - lowest since at least 1900 when the data analysed begin

Very much below average - rainfalls in the lowest 10% of historical totals
Below average - rainfalls in the lowest 30% of historical totals, but not in the lowest 10%
Average - rainfalls in the middle 40% of historical totals
Above average - rainfalls in the highest 30% of historical totals, but not in the highest 10%
Very much above average - rainfalls in the highest 10% of historical totals

For more information regarding this rainfall deficiencies statement, please contact the following climate meteorologists in the National Climate Centre:

Grant Beard on (03) 9669 4527
Felicity Gamble on (03) 9669 4256

Click on the map for full resolution.
Click on the map for full resolution.
A black and white version is also available.